SURVEY SAYS: Reader Superstitions

April 14, 2014 – Last week, I asked NewsDash readers whether they believe in certain common superstitions and whether they have any superstitions of their own.

Finding and picking up a penny is good luck: 16.5% of readers believe this superstition; 15.3% do not believe it; 37.6% do not believe it, but follow it sometimes; 7.1% do not believe it, but think about it when things happen; and 23.5% do not believe it, follow it or think about it

It’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding: 11.8% believe; 41.2% do not believe; 21.2% do not believe, but follow; 4.7% think about it; and 21.2% do not believe, think about or follow

Seven is a lucky number: 5.9% believe; 42.4% do not believe; 17.6% do not believe, but follow; 7.1% do not believe, but think about; and 27.1% do not believe, follow or think about

Knocking on wood prevents bad luck: responses were 6%, 16.9%, 62.7%, 1.2% and 13.3%, respectively.

It’s unlucky to walk under a ladder: responses were 15.3%, 27.1%, 30.6%, 4.7% and 22.4%, respectively.

Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck: responses were 8.2%, 40%, 22.4%, 3.5% and 25.9%, respectively.

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day: responses were 7.1%, 42.4%, 16.5%, 14.1% and 20%, respectively.

Breaking a mirror brings seven years bad luck: responses were 4.7%, 40%, 15.3%, 15.3% and 24.7%, respectively.

Throwing spilled salt over the left shoulder prevents bad luck: responses were 3.5%, 42.4%, 17.6%, 4.7% and 31.8%, respectively.

A black cat crossing your path is bad luck: responses were 7.1%, 44.7%, 8.2%, 9.4% and 30.6%, respectively.

13 is an unlucky number: responses were 8.2%, 43.5%, 12.9%, 7.1% and 28.2%, respectively.

Stepping on a crack is bad luck: responses were 2.4%, 44.7%, 20%, 4.7% and 28.2%, respectively.

Included in the superstitions shared by readers were some other commonly known superstitions— “Don't split the pole when walking with someone,” “Bad luck comes in threes,”—but some were new to me. For example, “When you're going fishing, don't bring bananas to eat in the boat. The fish won't bite,” and “If you put your purse on the floor, you will never have money,” (That would explain so much). One reader’s response, relating to the example I gave in the question— “I'm pretty sure if I wore a set of high heels, the presentation would go badly (I'm a guy).”

Here are readers’ superstitions:

  • Don't split the pole when walking with for parking meters, telephone polls, etc.
  • Lift feet driving over a railroad track - good luck (my kids taught me that one!)
  • Just pennies and I think either the quote from Grease - See a penny, pick it up; all day long you'll have good luck! OR it's pennies from heaven and I think about Mom and Dad watching out for me!
  • Wearing orange under garments to an Auburn football game brings success :)! Been doing it for years and both winning & losing!
  • Most of my superstitions relate to wearing my 'lucky' shirt or hat when my college team is playing!
  • If I get out of bed in the morning it will be a bad day at work.
  • When you're going fishing, don't bring bananas to eat in the boat. The fish won't bite.
  • I believe in wearing red on Fridays, the power of green M & M's, and never leaving/or speaking with my family without expressing how much I love them.
  • None - they are ridiculous. But I can't help saying the old childhood rhyme "Step on a crack, break your mother's back. Step on a line, break your father's spine" every time I walk down the sidewalk! I don't believe it - just a jingle that pops into my head.
  • I think my insistence on certain things is more likely attributable to OCD than true superstition.
  • I can't think of any. I guess I am definitely not superstitious.
  • Stay inside when there is a full moon outside!
  • Never say, "Things could not be worse." They definitely can be worse, no matter how bad they are currently. Saying something like that out loud seems to invite further disaster.
  • If I fill up my gas tank, guaranteed the price of gas will go down the next day.
  • Regarding the finding a penny: good luck if it is found heads-up. If it's tails-up, leave it alone.
  • I got one. In January of 2008, I planted a St. Joseph statue in front of a house that I was selling, because it was said that St. Joseph would help to sell the house. The house sold at the asking price in eight weeks in a horrific housing market (a depressed steel town in southwestern Pennsylvania.)
  • I have a lucky Green Bay Packer scarf that I wear when they play to help my team along.
  • I always wear a piece of jewelry from my grandparents or parents at big events in my life. It makes me feel like the event will go well with their good mojo.
  • I don't consider myself superstitious, I just think it's dumb to walk under a ladder. Quantifiable risk for zero benefit makes no sense to me.
  • It's always bad luck when you refuse to go to work Monday thru Friday.
  • Will wear same shirt on certain game days.
  • Bad luck comes in threes. (I don't believe it but find myself thinking it)
  • I heard before I was married that the wedding should always start on the half hour as the hands of the clock moving upward means that things will only get better from that point. I have been married for 32 years so I believe that!
  • Don't have any.
  • Green cars are unlucky
  • If my left hand itches, I'm going to receive a letter; If my right hand itches, I'm going to receive money. I find myself looking for a letter or money whenever my hand itches. If you put your purse on the floor, you will never have money, I keep a purse hanger in each of my purses so that I can hang my purse off the table. If the table is made so that the purse hanger won't work, I balance my purse on my feet under the table,
  • Neapolitan ice cream topped with fruit/nut trail mix helps my favorite hockey team. Sure looking forward to the end of hockey season and dang glad I'm not a baseball fan.
  • It is so odd, to think I don't believe in these common superstitions. I have an anxiety disorder, with some OCD tendencies (mostly compulsive thoughts) and...I have to have the tags on sheets and blankets in the lower right hand corner of the bed or...what? I don't know, but it will wake me up at night if I know we didn't make the bed correctly. That is the most minor example! But I have no issue with black cats or Friday the 13th. Funny.
  • Wore the same suit, tie, shirt, socks, and shoes when I took my once a year oral exam in medical school in Italy
  • I'm pretty sure if I wore a set of high heels, the presentation would go badly (I'm a guy)

Some verbatim comments were very funny—“What is the bad-luck-penalty for not responding to this survey?”, “I'm not superstitious — it'll bring me bad luck,” and “Did you hear the one about responding to questions about superstitions on a day that has a "y" in it?? I thought not! ;-)” are a few examples. Many readers said superstitions are nonsense, and some shared why they are, or are not, superstitious. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said:  “My favorite ‘fortune’ that I got in a fortune cookie years ago said, ‘Black cat does not want you to cross ITS path.’”

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!


Generally I am an optimistic person, but doesn't hurt to knock wood.

Ranks up there with chain letters forboding doom if you don't pass them on. Anyone know anyone who experienced incredible luck or heartbreak because they did or didn't do something? Yeah, me neither.

Coming from an Italian background, I know them all. I think they were invented just so people wouldn't have to do something. One of my Mom's biggest superstitions was that you couldn't sew on a Sunday. I think some little old Italian lady just wanted a day off so she made it up.

Well...a ladder could fall on you if you walk under it; your Mum could trip over a crack in the sidewalk and break her back, or you could fall over the black cat that ran across your I maintain that superstition is actually historical fact...on steroids.

IMHO, superstitions are because people like to have some feeling of control. Relying on superstitions helps people feel like they have some control. We want to take credit for the good, but have something to blame for the bad. If your favorite team (Go Seahawks) wins - is it because you were wearing stinky socks that have never been washed? Or alternatively, if something bad happens (think Denver fans), it's because of a ladder, a black cat, an umbrella. There is something else to blame.

I don't believe in superstitions, but if I did I would create my own..... "if you don't laugh, smile or be kind on a regular basis, the zombie will eat you during the Apocalypse."

I really do not believe in superstition but I do believe in Karma and what you do comes back be it good or bad!

We all like to believe in some sort of cause and effect; without that, the only alternative is the chaos theory. Given my normal workday, I tend to believe the latter.

Verbatim (cont.)

What is the bad-luck-penalty for not responding to this survey?

If you truly believe/trust in God in your heart you cannot have superstitions. If you think you can then your belief is head knowledge only, not of the heart.

I find superstitions amusing, but also recognize that some folks take them seriously . . . very seriously . . . too seriously.

Definitely a trust but verify (or at least don't knock it) belief system!

I don't believe in any of them.

I don't believe in these, but follow them just for fun and because they remind me of my mom saying them when I was growing up (e.g., knocking on wood, throwing salt, etc.).

Until I was diagnosed with cancer in the year '13 I didn't associate the number 13 with bad luck.

When you have heard all of these your whole life, you know them and even may say them. However, in reality, I do not "believe" any of them to be true. Coincidences will eventually happen.

I used to play college baseball and had too many superstitions to count. Don't step on the chalk, same # of practice swings, where to spit, touching the hat the same # of got to be overwhelming! Thankfully now it's nowhere near as bad, especially once you realize God's in control so whether you step on a crack or not it means nothing!

Friday the 13th is actually usually a very lucky day for me, but perhaps it is just because I choose to not think that it is unlucky. Many things are about your state of mind.

Verbatim (cont.)

Total Hogwash!

I used to do a lot of things "just in case" but the older I've gotten the less time and energy I have to waste on the nonsense.

I have a black cat and she crosses my path every single day. Nothing bad has happened............yet!

I always thought I wasn't superstitious however after responding to this survey, it appears that I may be...

Coincidence trumps superstition in the shiver/tingle factor.

In Chinese culture it is bad luck to buy someone a clock b/c it means death. There are a lot of superstitions around numbers also. In Filipino culture it is bad luck to buy someone shoes b/c it means they will walk out of your life.

I don't believe in superstitions, but as a Red Sox fan, now I'm wondering if the beards actually DID help....

I'm not superstitious — it'll bring me bad luck.

My favorite "fortune" that I got in a fortune cookie years ago said, "Black cat does not want you to cross ITS path."

Superstitions are as old as mankind - they are simply a way of explaining things that we don't seem to have a rational explanation for at the time, though you can understand why the kind of person who would walk under a ladder (for instance) might be prone to other careless, and potentially dangerous behaviors. The origins of some of these are interesting (look up the number 13 fear, for example). But did you hear the one about responding to questions about superstitions on a day that has a "y" in it?? I thought not! 😉


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.